The New Parish: How Neighborhood Churches Are Transforming Mission, Discipleship and Community  -     By: Paul Sparks, Tim Soerens, Dwight J. Friesen
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The New Parish: How Neighborhood Churches Are Transforming Mission, Discipleship and Community

InterVarsity Press / 2014 / Paperback

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"When . . . faith communities begin connecting together, in and for the neighborhood, they learn to depend on God for strength to love, forgive and show grace like never before. . . . The gospel becomes so much more tangible and compelling when the local church is actually a part of the community, connected to the struggles of the people, and even the land itself."

Paul Sparks, Tim Soerens and Dwight J. Friesen have seen - in cities, suburbs and small towns all over North America - how powerful the gospel can be when it takes root in the context of a place, at the intersection of geography, demography, economy and culture. This is not a new idea - the concept of a parish is as old as Paul's letters to the various communities of the ancient church. But in an age of dislocation and disengagement, the notion of a church that knows its place and gives itself to where it finds itself is like a breath of fresh air, like a sign of new life.

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Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 224
Vendor: InterVarsity Press
Publication Date: 2014
Dimensions: 8.25 X 5.50 (inches)
ISBN: 0830841156
ISBN-13: 9780830841158
Availability: In Stock

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Publisher's Description

Headlines rage with big stories about big churches. But tucked away in neighborhoods throughout North America is a profound work of hope quietly unfolding as the gospel takes root in the context of a place. The future of the church is local, connected to the struggles of the people and even to the land itself.

Author Bio

Paul Sparks is a Parish Organizer and Social Entrepreneur. His place-based expertise and trusted friendship in neighborhoods across North America make him an indispensable consultant to faith communities, academic institutions, and community organizations. Paul speaks for strong resilient relationships within the parish, and brave collaborative links across places. Paul is the co-founder of Local Life: Coalition for Livable Communities, the Parish Collective: Rooted and Linked for Parish Renewal, and Urban Landscaping: Rapid Placeshaking Collaborations. He is also an instructor for the at the Seattle School of Psychology and Theology and is the co-founder of the Inhabit Conference. Paul lives in an urban neighborhood at the heart of Downtown Tacoma, Washington with his co-conspiring wife Elizabeth. They pastor a growing faith community comprised of friends, artists and entrepreneurs seeking a common life together with their neighbors.

Tim Soerens is a pastor, social entrepreneur, and co-founding director of the Parish Collective. As co-director of the Parish Collective he convenes ministry leaders, teaches, and consults with organizations seeking human flourishing in particular neighborhoods while also working collaboratively across the city. He is also the co-founding producer of the Inhabit Conference and the new Leadership in the New Parish certificate program at The Seattle School of Theology and Psychology. As social entrepreneur, Tim is a founding adviser to the Hub-Seattle, an innovative co-working space for change makers in both non-profit and business sectors. He earned a BA in Rhetorical Sciences from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Masters of Divinity from The Seattle School of Theology and Psychology. He lives in the Wallingford neighborhood of Seattle with his wife Maria-Jose and their son.

Dwight J. Friesen (DMin, George Fox University) has over a dozen years of missional pastoral experience and is currently Associate Professor of Practical Theology at The Seattle School of Theology & Psychology. He is passionate about peace-making, interfaith and missional-ecumenical conversation, and about communally and personally embodying the Gospel of Jesus Christ in local contexts. In 1996, Dwight pioneered an emerging network of simple churches in Seattle called "Quest-A Christ Commons." He has served as a guest lecturer and spiritual director around the country and is a co-founder of the Inhabit Conference. As a speaker and consultant for churches, denominations and mission agencies, he speaks internationally on issues of contextual ministry, postmodern culture, social systems and missional Christianity. He also served for a number of years on the Faith & Order Commission of the National Council of Churches. Dwight, his wife Lynette, and their son are active members of the Lake Hills neighborhood of Bellevue, Washington.

Endorsements

Strong communities, strongly rooted in place, are the future: for food, for energy, but also for our spiritual life. This is a powerful account of a necessary future.
-Bill McKibben

Time and space are honored in this book. The neighborhood is honored in this book. The kingdom of God is proclaimed in ways that are ancient and new. Sparks, Friesen and Soerens are not wild-eyed dreamers, but make no mistake, they have eyes to see and ears to hear what the Spirit is saying to the church. What these creative pastors understand is that there is, in fact, a new parish. It calls for deep local practice fueled by incarnational presence, solidarity and collaboration with the Spirit in the neighborhood. Much of theological education seems to miss that point. Warning: Don't read this book unless you care about the ministry of the church in the next decade.
-Keith R. Anderson,
The Seattle School of Theology and Psychology

The traditional idea of a parish is just what this book is reclaiming--'churches rooted in the neighborhood.' The idea and reality of a parish used to be geographical. Those called to lead the parish did not organize for the purpose of drawing people to a specific theology or affinity or program. Done well, those called to lead 'read' their neighborhood and responded. They did not wish for 'other people,' they thanked God for the people in their neighborhood, put down roots, built relationships and incarnated the body of Christ. This book is an attempt to reclaim that traditional understanding in a new day for a new generation. It is much needed, and I am so thankful for it.
-The Rt. Rev. Gregory H. Rickel, VIII Bishop of Olympia

Paul, Tim and Dwight each live the reality they describe. I know they've paid high prices for taking a journey born out of biblical imagination and profound instincts for the practice of gospel life in North America. The path they describe is not and will not be popular. It sounds sexy and seems full of romance, but, as they well know, this is another kind of journey -without glamor, romance or individualistic heroism - focused on the agency of God and the disorienting, disturbing, disrupting work of the Spirit. We are being invited to refound the church for the sake of the healing of neighborhoods and communities in the name of Jesus. Read this book and ask how you can practice life in the 'parish.'"
-Alan J. Roxburgh,
The Missional Network

What would it look like if God's reign were to be more fully realized in your neighborhood? In The New Parish, Tim, Paul and Dwight team up to answer this question in concrete ways. With a rich theology of place and practice, they guide us in how to have a humble posture and be a faithful presence in the neighborhood. This is a must-read!
-JR Woodward,
V3 Church Planting Movement

The New Parish is a gift to church leaders like me. Though the authors challenge the most fundamental understandings of the church's mission and its presence in the neighborhood, they do so as practitioners deeply invested in its flourishing. This book sets out a challenging agenda for the local church, but with such encouragement and hope that one is left in no doubt that the challenge is within reach. In fact, it's right outside our front doors.
-Simon Carey Holt,
Collins Street Baptist Church, Melbourne, Australia

The New Parish offers a vision for Christian community that honors place amidst fragmentation. This book will inspire a new generation of Christian leaders who will answer the yearnings of all of us for authentic community.
-Tremper Longman III,
Westmont College, Santa Barbara, California

In The New Parish, Paul, Tim and Dwight offer a theologically rich vision of church life intertwined with the places we inhabit. In stark contrast to the displacement and fragmentation that dominates our age, this important book calls us to slow down, become rooted, and experience a taste of the abundance and healing that God intends for all creation. Church leaders take heed, the new parish is, without question, the church of the future!
-C. Christopher Smith

Teeming with fresh ideas and rich energy for the future of the church. The authors fully recognize the sorry state of much of the church in our culture, but insist, in most imaginative ways, that another way of church is possible. It is all about relationship, listening, communicating and caring in bodily, concrete ways. The New Parish reveals why such a practice is deeply grounded in the gospel and how this is contrary to so many current church strategies. This is hands-on missional ecclesiology in its most generative mode.
-Walter Brueggemann

Journeying with these three brothers through the various iterations of Western Christianity into the 'new parish' reminds me of the traveling school of the prophets in ancient Israel--except they are walking with me in my hood. Sparks, Soerens and Friesen are giving us new eyes to see and convening a new space for what is emerging in our context by the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. In The New Parish we are being invited to participate more fully and faithfully into this Spirit-led, ancient-future social technology of the kingdom of God. Are you in place?
-Anthony Smith,
Transform Network, and pastor/co-missioner, Mission House

As our vehicles and gadgets get faster and faster, people are hungry for a place to belong and a people who know them. What a gift the notion of the parish is for our time. And what a joy to know this collective that's figuring out how to breath life into this ancient notion in our time.
-Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove

The New Parish offers a rich, thoughtful exploration of the characteristics and processes of ministry that is deeply rooted in faithful presence in local neighborhoods. This book is an important reflection on how to overcome one of the biggest threats to the vitality of ministry in the Global North: disembodied practice that doesn't recognize or collaborate with the active presence of the Holy Spirit incarnate in our communities. I particularly recommend The New Parish for denominational leaders and church planters. It will give you critically important advice for leading the church into the future.
-Alexia Salvatierra

Local. Global. Presence. Linking. Rooting. Parish. Commons. Integration. These words will radiate with meaning when you finish this important, needed, comprehensive and truly worthwhile book. I would wish it upon every seminarian, church leader, church member and church dropout. The New Parish is one of the most important books on the church, Christian identity and mission that I've read in a decade.
-Brian D. McLaren

This is a must-read book for those who know deep down in their bones that the life of following Jesus is meant to be anything other than a weekly jaunt to a building referred to as a church. Rather than a mere critique, this compelling, winsome and wise book is an incendiary love letter that invites us to develop the eyes, heart and imagination to follow what the Spirit is already doing to foster reconciliation, justice and care in our neighborhoods. Sparks, Soerens and Friesen are potters whose artistry has required them to immerse themselves in all that is broken, dirty and beautiful about the church and envision a new parish life that offers us all a taste of the banquet of reconciling love. Come, taste and see.
-Dan B. Allender,
The Seattle School of Theology and Psychology

Something's up in neighborhoods right across this country. Kids raised in the generica of American suburbs are becoming adults who yearn deeply for a sense of place, for belonging, for community. The New Parish is a passionate call for churches to join in the beautiful work of placemaking, not only as a response to this yearning but as a core expression of the mission of God in our world.
-Michael Frost

Quietly, beneath the purview of the dominant social systems, a revolution is taking place. The church is returning to the local. In The New Parish, three subversives plot the church's simple way back into the neighborhood. The result is flourishing, renewal of the Spirit, indeed the gospel taking on flesh! This book is your invitation to the revolution!
-David Fitch,
Northern Seminary, and author of Prodigal Christianity

Editorial Reviews

"The authors explore how the limitations of staying rooted in a particular place actually provide opportunities for transformation and mission. This is a counterintuitive notion for churches that have bought into the mobile and transient values of our culture."
"Faithfulness needs to encompass more than worship to include the mundane activities of everyday life, according to The New Parish. In prophetic tones the authors suggest that if the church cannot be present and involved in its neighborhood, it has lost its way. These theologically trained authors all propose a new parish. Follow Jesus into your neighbourhood with other followers of Jesus. This means 'taking your bodies, your locations and your community very seriously, as seriously as God in Christ took them.' If a church is in, and for, the parish, everything changes, and might result in what they call 'slow church.' . . . This book would be an excellent resource for small group study."
"Paul Sparks, Tim Soerens and Dwight J. Friesen have seen . . . how powerful the gospel can be when it takes root in the context of a place, at the intersection of geography, economy and culture. This is not a new idea, the concept of a parish is as old as Paul's letters to the various communities of the ancient church. But in an age of dislocation and disengagement, the notion of a church that knows its place and gives itself to where it finds itself is like a breath of fresh air, like a sign of new life."
"As someone who is doing church as parish, I have found this book a very helpful guide in practically answering what a church could look like as it is lived in community. What I also appreciate is the authors do not gloss over the challenges presented and the hard work involved in developing a new parish. They acknowledge the journey is complex, the transition difficult, and experienced guides are few. This is a resource that will definitely be a textbook for those wanting to embrace a localized view of church in years to come."
"Teeming with fresh ideas and rich energy for the future of the church. The authors fully recognize the sorry state of much of the church in our culture, but insist, in most imaginative ways, that another way of church is possible. It is all about relationship, listening, communicating and caring in bodily, concrete ways. The New Parish reveals why such a practice is deeply grounded in the gospel and how this is contrary to so many current church strategies. This is hands-on missional ecclesiology in its most generative mode."
"The traditional idea of a parish is just what this book is reclaiming--'churches rooted in the neighborhood.' The idea and reality of a parish used to be geographical. Those called to lead the parish did not organize for the purpose of drawing people to a specific theology or affinity or program. Done well, those called to lead 'read' their neighborhood and responded. They did not wish for 'other people,' they thanked God for the people in their neighborhood, put down roots, built relationships and incarnated the body of Christ. This book is an attempt to reclaim that traditional understanding in a new day for a new generation. It is much needed, and I am so thankful for it."
"Time and space are honored in this book. The neighborhood is honored in this book. The kingdom of God is proclaimed in ways that are ancient and new. Sparks, Friesen and Soerens are not wild-eyed dreamers, but make no mistake, they have eyes to see and ears to hear what the Spirit is saying to the church. What these creative pastors understand is that there is, in fact, a new parish. It calls for deep local practice fueled by incarnational presence, solidarity and collaboration with the Spirit in the neighborhood. Much of theological education seems to miss that point. Warning: Don't read this book unless you care about the ministry of the church in the next decade."
"Strong communities, strongly rooted in place, are the future: for food, for energy, but also for our spiritual life. This is a powerful account of a necessary future."
"The authors offer fresh insights into the fragmentation of Western Christianity and explain why moving from megachurches to neighborhood churches is impacting the spread of the gospel."

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